from the Col Collective
While the Col de la Bonette may not be the highest road in Europe as it often proclaims but scaling its way up 2,802 meters with a cheeky little 2 kilometer loop around the top just to out trump some of its competition will always make it the stuff of legend. From Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée you face a long 25.8km ascent, immediately giving you the sense that you’re going on a real journey as you venture deep into the Mercantour National Park. The raw power of the Vens waterfall is a landmark well worth taking a moment to draw breath for as it thunders its way down the side of the mountain.
As you climb higher the sheer peacefulness that the Bonette instils often reminds you of how simple life can be, until it takes on an eerie (almost surreal) twist as you pass through the now derelict Camp des Fourches, once home to a battalion of Alpine troops. It’s not often that you get both character and history melded together in such a beautiful way to create a climb that no matter how long it takes, or how much it hurts, by the summit you can’t help but feel totally alive once more.
Start: Saint Étienne de Tinée
Elevation gain: 1,652m
Average gradient: 6.4%
Max gradient: 15%
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